It feels like a lifetime has passed since the Atlanta Hawks were last on a basketball court and, considering the negative result in Cleveland before the All-Star break, that might be for the best. Still, the Hawks have 26 games remaining and, on Thursday evening, the Miami Heat come to town for the first contest of the stretch run.
In many ways, the match-up will be an interesting measuring stick for the Hawks as they aim to finish on a higher note after early-season struggles. Miami had some of their own performance issues before the break but, overall, the Heat are a very good team that boasts significant talent, headlined by a pair of All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Heat will be without a pair of rotation players in this match-up, with Tyler Herro and Meyers Leonard officially listed as out.
On Atlanta’s side, the full roster won’t be in play just yet, with Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere still sidelined with injury. However, the Hawks project to have more of their roster available than at most times during the season and, with Dewayne Dedmon available at the center spot, Atlanta is better suited to compete against a playoff-caliber opponent in this spot. It should be noted, though, that De’Andre Hunter (right ankle sprain) is listed as questionable, which could pour cold water on things to some extent.
At present, the Hawks are six-point home underdogs against the Heat, illustrating the difficulty of the match-up, even in Atlanta’s home building. With that said, it will be nice to observe real, live NBA basketball and the Hawks have the tools to be competitive.
Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:30 pm ET
Location: State Farm Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass